[Hpn] ALERT: LAPD Arrests 15 & Cites 70 in HOMELESS SWEEPS - despite Court Order fwd Court Order fwd

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Sat, 9 Dec 2000 14:59:56 -0800 (PST)

CIRCULATE PLEASE to nonviolent defenders of Homeless People's CIVIL RIGHTS:

ALERT: LAPD Arrests 15, Cites 70 in HOMELESS SWEEPS, despite Court Order

Report Civil Liberties Violations to your local ACLU chapter

FWD  Los Angeles Times - Saturday, December 9, 2000


Homeless: Officials say they are complying with restraining order
          and insist they are seeking to stem a rise in crime.

By ERIKA HAYASAKI, Times Staff Writer

A Los Angeles Police Department task force patrolled the heart of
the downtown skid row area Friday, arresting and citing scores of
homeless people for jaywalking and other violations.

Police said the intent was to target rising crime and show that
officers will not back down in the wake of a temporary restraining order
issued last Friday.

"I have never seen so many cops here," said Cynthia Valles, 41, who
has been homeless in the area for about six months. "They are overdoing
it. They are harassing us 24/7." She had just been cited for jaywalking
on San Julian Street near 6th Street.

The restraining order states that officers cannot stop the homeless
without reasonable suspicion, demand identification on the threat of
arrest, search possessions without reasonable suspicion, confiscate the
property of a homeless person if it has not been abandoned or issue
citations for loitering.

But Sgt. Andy Mathes said officers have not been harassing homeless
people, and that officers were merely doing their job Friday: issuing
citations and arresting people for violations of the law.

"Our task is to protect the community, and the temporary restraining
order doesn't change anything," said Mathes, who was in charge of the
detail. "Officers have not been outside of the law at any point."

About 30 members of the LAPD Central Division and state parole
officers took to the streets at 9 a.m. Friday, focusing on a three-block
area around San Julian Street and 5th and 6th streets, which is known for
high crime.

As of 6 p.m., police had written about 70 citations and made about 15
arrests. Most tickets were issued for jaywalking, but arrests were made
when outstanding warrants or drugs were discovered, or when someone ran
from officers.

Myong McSween, 42, said she did not understand why she was ticketed
for jaywalking across San Julian.

She was close to tears as she was handcuffed for refusing to give
identification to Mathes so he could issue a citation.

"Why nobody helps me?" she asked. "Why are they doing this? Why are
they picking on me?"

About six homeless people watched as McSween was handcuffed.

"Isn't there a federal injunction for you to stop harassing the
homeless?" yelled Otha Tardy, 50, who has lived on skid row for two
months. "This is our community. There's nothing wrong with crossing the
streets between these centers."

About 20 people gathered in front of the Lamp Center, one of the
facilities for the homeless on San Julian, and watched nine police
officers issue jaywalking citations to those who walked across the street
with disregard.

"Fascist pigs!" yelled Alvin Lambert, 42, who is homeless.

As officers drove down San Julian, homeless people scowled and made
obscene gestures.

One man imitated a gun with his fist and pointed it toward Mathes as
he drove by. "You see that gun, that's the way it's going to be next
time," he said. "Don't you forget that."

Mathes said the jaywalking citations were issued for the safety of the

"Do you know we had a guy get killed three weeks ago who was
jaywalking?" Mathes told Cladius Moore, 46, a homeless man who had
received his second jaywalking ticket of the day by 9:15 a.m.

Pedestrian deaths have been relatively high this year in the Central
Division, which includes skid row and the downtown area, compared to
other areas. And many of those killed in the Central Division were
homeless people, police say.

Violence, robberies and drug use have increased on skid row, a
50-block area with about 11,000 transients, since the lawsuit was filed
two weeks ago and police limited their enforcement actions, Mathes said.
This year, four homeless people have been killed in the Central Division
and 32 homeless people have been victims of rape or other sex crimes.

"We are trying to look for parolees at large and the drug dealers that
have infiltrated the community here and are preying on the homeless and
the citizens," Mathes said.

But Tardy, who frowned as eight officers lined up three people who
were jaywalking, said it was a waste of manpower.

"They are trying to be a nuisance," he said. "They could be doing
something else."

Carol Sobel, a lawyer representing the homeless in the ACLU lawsuit
against the LAPD, called the police action "outrageous."

"The captain is issuing tickets for jaywalking, and people can't pay
those tickets and then they go to warrants, and then he has a basis for
arresting them," she said. "There's no rational relationship with a
jaywalking ticket and the violent crime he says he wants to address."

Mathes said crime usually decreases after task force operations like

LAPD Officer Barbara Jones questioned the decision to patrol skid row
Friday, a week after the court order was issued.

"We're rebelling against the restraining order, bottom line," she said
during the 10 a.m. Central Division roll call.

In response, Mathes said: "This restraining order isn't changing
business at all. You all know me pretty well, I wouldn't send you out
there to do the wrong thing."


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